New Arrivals
Author-Ice Bear

All That Really Matters
by Ice Bear

Summary: My take on what happened during The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg.

Disclaimer: All things Sentinel belong to Pet Fly and Paramount.

He needed a plan. And it better be a damn good one if he was going to salvage the most important relationship he’d ever had. He limped to the loft door and opened it. He let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding when he saw all Sandburg’s belongings where they had been that morning. So there was still time.

He grabbed the phone and started dialing. He spent three hours on it before making his way up to his bedroom and packing his duffel. He went into Blair’s room and packed some of his clothes, as well. He moved to the kitchen and packed food into three boxes and filled the ice chest. He made three trips to the truck, pulling the tarp over the back and fastening it before going back upstairs. He lowered himself carefully onto the couch and waited.

When he heard the familiar heartbeat, his own sped up. He really hoped this plan would work. He pulled himself onto his feet and headed for the door, opening it just as Blair got his key free. The younger man froze. He’d been dreading this moment – pretty sure that his partner would throw him out, despite his warm words earlier at the hospital. Jim’s smile threw him off, as did the hand on the shoulder that spun him around and guided him back to the elevator. They rode in silence, Jim’s arm around his shoulder. It remained there until they stood in front of the truck. Jim flipped him the keys before limping over to the passenger side.

Okay, maybe he had gone from the Sandburg Zone to the Twilight Zone because his partner had handed over the keys to the truck without a word. Weird didn’t begin to cover it. Jim told him to get on I-5 South and then he closed his eyes and slumped down in the seat. So Blair drove. The silence was comfortable, and he felt some of the tension of the last few days fall away as they put miles between themselves and Cascade.

Jim provided additional directions three hours later. They stopped once for gas and sandwiches, and Blair flinched as he saw how stiff and sore his partner was. He knew better then to say anything, especially when Jim shot him a ‘what are you going to do’ look accompanied by a grin as he leaned heavily on his cane on his way in to the diner.

Just before midnight they pulled up to a beach house outside some small town in Oregon. It was out on a point, perched high above the water, and the sense of peace and quiet that surrounded them as soon as the sound of the truck’s engine died was immense. Jim shot his partner a shy smile, and they unloaded the truck. The house was small but cozy, and they crashed soon after arriving.

Blair woke late the next morning, feeling better then he had since – well since the whole nightmare started. He could smell the coffee and smiled to himself as he headed for the shower. His partner was not in residence when he got out so he settled on the porch with his coffee. The view was amazing – open ocean; crashing surf; and miles of sand. This was just what the doctor ordered. Leave it to his Sentinel to find a safe place for both of them to heal, surrounded by the bounty of nature without having to rough it – considering said Sentinel wasn’t in any shape to do so.

He walked across the small lawn to the steps that led down to the beach – there had to be at least 85 of them. And when he saw his partner awkwardly moving up them, leaning heavily on his cane, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. If there was a being on earth more stubborn then Jim Ellison, he didn’t want to meet them. He brought the coffee out the porch and settled back, offering up a mug when his partner appeared.

They passed the day quietly; a trip to the local grocery store for some perishables, Jim took an afternoon nap, and they watched a game before bed. The next day, Blair joined Jim on his walk, carefully keeping his thoughts about stubborn Sentinels to himself as the bigger man limped down the steep steps. It was a beautiful morning; warm sun, slight breeze, and the seabirds were hanging in the wind. They walked for two miles at a pace well below their normal gait.

Again no words passed between them, but Blair, who lived to talk according to his friends at Major Crimes, let his partner lead. Clearly Jim had a plan, and once he realized it did not include sending him away or chopping him up into little pieces and scattering him to the four winds – both fears after the dissertation became public – he decided to enjoy the down time and go with the flow. Besides, Jim’s words at the hospital - while few - told him all he really needed to know. Their relationship as partners, as friends, as roommates and as Sentinel and Guide was still intact.

He watched the bigger man carefully over the next two days. Jim seemed comfortable taking it slow. They walked, they read, and they rested. It wasn’t until the fourth day, when Jim asked him to join him on the beach that he knew they were going to get to the real reason behind their escape. They walked for a mile or so, before Jim moved away from the water and settled on a large piece of driftwood, patting the wood so Blair would join him.

Knowing that the rest of his life depended on coming up with the right words, Jim focused his eyes on the horizon and started talking. He needed Blair to understand that there had never been anyone in his life to whom he’d really mattered, not until some neohippy witchdoctor punk had burst into that hospital exam room. His voice was soft and a little unsteady as he tried to put into words what was in his heart. He talked about their ups and downs, Alex; Lash; Peru; Maya; his family; Naomi; and the dissertation.

He’d never understand how Blair could stand up and throw away his life’s work, but he would do everything within his power to see that he didn’t suffer for it. So he laid out what he’d learned from his conversation with his lawyer. Blair had options – sue the University since he’d never actually submitted the dis; sue the publisher who’d started it all. The money would pay off student loans and his lawyer believed there was still a possibility that Blair could get his PhD – and Jim wanted that for his partner, badly.

But if he didn’t want to go back to the U – his choice – there were other options. Blair could become a cop and be his official partner – not that he’d ever needed a badge for that, but at least he could finally get paid for being shot at. There was also the possibility of becoming a paid consultant so they could work together without the Guide having to carry a gun. And if Blair wanted to chuck it all and start over somewhere else, his Sentinel was ready to pack up and go.

Blair’s eyes were a kaleidoscope of emotions as the most private man he knew laid bare his soul. Jim was willing to give up everything for him – everything. He couldn’t begin to wrap his mind around that. No one, not even his mother, had ever done that for him.

He stood up and started pacing. Jim let him go, knowing that Blair sitting still was simply abnormal. The older man grinned as the hands started to twitch, knowing that his friend was done processing. But when Blair started apologizing, he cut him off. He made it clear there was nothing left to apologize for – the past was just that, and they were here to talk about the future – a future he wanted desperately to be part of.

A brilliant Sandburg smile warmed him. He told Jim about his fears when he discovered what his mother had done and his efforts to stop it before it got out of hand. He explained why he had held his press conference, and it was more then the Guide protecting his Sentinel. It was about love – for his best friend; for the man who’d given him the only real home he’d ever known; for the man who had helped him belong in the alien cop culture; and for the man who always come after him – despite the risks to his own life. No one in his life had ever cared for him like that, no one.

As for the future, they both needed to take some time and think it through. He would think about suing – he wasn’t sure it was worth it if it meant more publicity – but he would consider it and talk to Jim’s lawyers. Maybe the police was where he had been headed all along, and they would talk more about that once he had some time to think it through. Leaving Cascade for a new life – well the Guide didn’t think the Sentinel could or should leave his tribe.

Jim interrupted. He’d listened for a long time, but he needed his Guide to know that he believed Burton had been a little mixed up when it came to the ‘tribe’. The Guide was his tribe, so wherever the Guide went, the Sentinel would go. It was the Guide that mattered to the Sentinel; the rest would work itself out.

The grumbling of Blair’s stomach made them both laugh, and he helped Jim off the driftwood so they could head back for lunch. They had a lot to think about, but the most important issue had been settled – whatever happened, whatever direction they went – they would be together. And in the end, that is all that really mattered.